The OSU Statistics Department hosted four students over the summer as part of a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program sponsored by the American Statistical Association and the National Science Foundation. These students came to OSU from various institutions for a 10-week period to learn how to conduct scientific research.

In particular, students used bioinformatic and statistical methods to study how the gut microbiome, which is the collection of microorganisms that live in the human gut, associates with health. Emerging research indicates that the gut microbiome matters to health, but we still lack a strong understanding of how age, gender, and lifestyle factors influence our gut microbiome. The REU students analyzed publicly data provided by the American Gut Project to clarify how these factors relate to the kinds of organisms that grow in the human gut.

Ellen Kulinsky, from UC Berkeley, ascertained how the gut microbiome changes as men and women age. Elizabeth Hensel, from the University of Virginia, determined that the gut microbiome differs in lean and obese individuals. Aaron Huang, from the University of Washington, assess how the consumption of alcohol impacts the gut microbiome. Shelby Taylor, from Brigham Young University, discerned how the amount of fiber in our diets influences the gut microbiome.

The students are working towards publishing their analyses in scientific manuscripts. These project were led by the following faculty members within the OSU Statistics Department: Thomas Sharpton, Yuan Jiang, Yanming Di, Lan Xue, and Duo Jiang.